CUSTER, GEORGE ARMSTRONG. (1839-1876). American cavalry officer best remembered for his “last stand” at the Battle of Little Bighorn. DS. (“G.W. Custer”). As Brevet Major General. 1p. Folio. Fort Abraham Lincoln, March 29, 1874. A partially printed discharge, emblazoned with the Great Seal of the United States, issued for Augustus Rathman, serving under Michael V. Sheridan’s Company L of the Seventh U.S. Cavalry. Countersigned by Custer’s younger brother, First Lieutenant THOMAS WARD CUSTER (1845-1876, “T.W. Custer”), who also died at Little Bighorn. Thomas Custer was the first two-time recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor and the only Civil War veteran to have been awarded the medal twice for combat during the war.
Prior to making his name as an Indian fighter, Custer had been a distinguished cavalry officer in the Civil War. He had graduated from West Point in 1861 and joined the Union Army with the rank of second lieutenant, serving on General McClellan’s staff and fighting at Antietam, Chancellorsville and in other campaigns. In 1863, just prior to the Battle of Gettysburg, Custer was promoted to brigadier general and took command of the Michigan Cavalry Brigade.